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A bright spot in Hubble's troubled eye.

A bright spot in Hubble's troubled eye

Flawed, yes, but the Hubble Space Telescope nonetheless provides the sharpest images of Mars yet taken from Earth's vicinity. It can capture details about 50 kilometers across, compared with the 150-km resolution of ground-based photos.

A seven-member team led by Philip James of the University of Toledo in Ohio now plans periodic Hubble observations for a long-term study of Mars' changing surface and atmosphere, including its occasional global dust storms.

The first image in the series, made Dec. 13 and released last month, shows Syrtis Major Planitia (dark area, middle). Such Martian dark regions appear covered with coarse sand grains about 100 microns across, says Steve Lee of the University of Colorado in Boulder; the lighter surface apparently consists of dust particles no bigger than 1 micron.

The light-blue feature along the picture's upper-right edge represents a "hood" of water ice in the atmospher above the Martian north pole, extending to a height of 10 kilometers or more. Using ultraviolet filters, the team has also produced what one member calls the first ozone map of Mars.
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Title Annotation:Hubble Space Telescope's images of Mars
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 6, 1991
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